August 18, 2018

The Golan Heights are at present occupied by Israel, but they used to belong to Syria and Jordan. Biblically this area is important because over here on this side of the lake was Gerasa territory, and Gadara village, and one or the other is the locale where Jesus exorcised the man who had a legion of demons in him. Here’s the view looking towards the lake from the Golan…. The Israelis have been busy bees over here since they took… Read more

August 17, 2018

Certainly one of my favorite sites to visit is another Caesarea, Caesarea Philippi in the far north, where Peter made his confession that Jesus was the Christ. The important point is…. this was not in Israel. In fact, it was in a pagan city originally named for the Greek god Pan. It was one of the ten cities of the Greek Decapolis, and later Herod Philip’s capital. Here there were pagan temples, and statues of Greek and Roman gods and… Read more

August 16, 2018

The Gospels suggest that Jesus made Kefer Nahum (the village of Nahum)=Capernaum his home away from home. The house of Peter’s mother-in-law seems to have been the spot where he visited and stayed and today that house appears to be the one underneath the Fransican boat-shaped modern church. As you enter the site, there is a new visitor awaiting you….a homeless figure lying on a bench, which upon closer examination has a hole in his foot, and is Jesus. This… Read more

August 15, 2018

Certainly one of the most tranquil and beautiful sites near the Sea of Galilee is the so-called Mt. of Beatitudes. We honestly do not know exactly where Jesus taught the beatitudes, but the indications are it was somewhere bigger than this locale, since there was a large crowd involved. It doesn’t much matter, this is a fine place to contemplate the meaning of Jesus’ counter intuitive eschatological beatitudes. Here’s the view….. The Franciscans and other Catholic orders do nice work… Read more

August 14, 2018

Perhaps you have heard of the amazing discovery of a decorated torah table at the Migdal dig. It is now safely ensconced in the Israeli museum, but a full size replica can be viewed at the site. Most scholars think the table would have been used to roll out a Biblical scroll on, for the reading during the synagogue service, and I agree that is likely. Note the menorah as well as the floral patterns on the carved stone table…. Read more

August 13, 2018

Certainly one of the most important digs in all of Israel in recent years, is the dig at Migdal, or Magdala, the home of the Mary we call Magdalene. Migdal means tower in Hebrew, but this was a thriving fishing village, complete we a fish pickle factory, making garum, the relish everyone loved to put on their food. First we will examine the beautiful chapel the Franciscans are building on the site….. There are little chapels in the alcoves of… Read more

August 12, 2018

As most of you will have heard some time ago, a boat was excavated out of the mud in the sea of Galilee when it was at a low ebb, and it turned out to be a boat from the era in which Jesus and Paul lived. This was clearly a home-made boat, made out of many different kinds of wood, as we will see shortly, apparently whatever wood was ready to hand. Today the boat looks like this…. But… Read more

August 11, 2018

Certainly some of the most dramatic two chapters in the Bible are 1 Kings 18-19– the story of Elijah’s triumph over the prophets of Baal, and the aftermath, involving a flight to Mt. Horeb. Mt. Carmel today has a nice monastery on top, and a great view of the Jezreel valley. Here’s the statue of Elijah in the act of dispatching some false prophets…. And here’s the overlook of a hazy Jezreel valley…. There are caves found here where the… Read more

August 10, 2018

Caesarea Maritima is of importance, not merely to understand the grandiose building complexes of Herod the Great, but also of course because here is where the prefect of the province of Judaea lived, including Pontius Pilate. A famous inscription, now in the Israeli museum, was found here mentioning Pilate. Here is what the original stone looked like…. But it is also important for the study of Paul and his work, because of course he was incarcerated here for two years,… Read more

August 9, 2018

The journey to Israel can take many forms, but in antiquity if you were sailing there from Greece, you would go to the Caesarea Maritima, Herod’s spectacular man-made port. We will visit it first. There is now a nice film one can see of what it would have looked like… here are some stills I took from the film…. The harbor complex seems to have been modeled on the harbor in Alexandria where the famous Pharos lighthouse could be seen…… Read more

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